More than 2 million federal employees nationwide rely on an Eastern Jackson County non-profit for their medical and dental plans and the Truman Heartland Community Foundation has recognized the provider with its annual Corporate Citizen of the Year award.
Government Employees Health Association, or GEHA, was recognized for its philanthropic endeavors that resulted in fundraisers totaling millions of dollars and employees who worked thousands of hours of volunteer service. GEHA was among several individuals and groups honored during the 24th Annual Toast of Our Town Gala to recognize those chosen for their impact in Eastern Jackson County and beyond. GEHA is headquartered in Lee’s Summit, where it has several offices, and it has an office in Independence and about 50 remote employees who work throughout the country. GEHA serves federal employees and their dependents nationwide.
Tracey Mershon, volunteer chairman of the Truman Heartland board, said the board is meticulous in its research before deciding to designate an organization to honor. GEHA was a natural choice, she said.
“They have a very high level of volunteerism among their 1,400 (local) employees…and support 65 organizations each year,” she said. “The list goes on and on.”
GEHA employees hosted a golf tournament that raised more than $1.3 million for area charities, of which the March of Dimes was the employee-selected charity. Company volunteers also have participated in the Greater Kansas City March for Babies. Another annual event leads hundreds of GEHA employees to participate in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge, designed to promote fitness and team building while raising money for a Kansas City charitable organization.
GEHA also annually thanks local veterans through gifts of time and money. Through their participation, employees have helped build tiny houses to serve as permanent residences for many area veterans. In addition, they have participated in a program designed to allow honored World War II and Korean War veterans to travel to the nation’s capital, where they have toured war memorials saluting their service. The veterans arrived back home to a surprise reception featuring several thousand cheering crowds at Kansas City International Airport.
During the 2019 federal government shutdown, GEHA employees partnered with Harvesters-The Community Food Network, to sponsor four emergency distributions in Kansas City and Topeka. The movement provided food to more than 450 households or more than 1,750 people. In addition, employees participated in a food drive to restock area food pantries, depleted by the extra demands due to the shutdown.